AI Voice Analysis Can Monitor Patients’ Mental Health as Well as Doctors
An interactive voice application that uses artificial intelligence has been found effective at monitoring the well-being of patients being treated for serious mental illness.
For the new study, researchers from the University of California Los Angeles followed 47 patients for up to 14 months using an application called MyCoachConnect. All of the patients were being treated for serious mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder.
The patients were asked to call a toll-free number one or two times a week and answer three open-ended questions when prompted by a computer-generated voice: How have you been over the past few days? What’s been troubling or challenging over the past few days? and What’s been particularly good or positive?
MyCoachConnect was designed to collect personalized patient responses, according to lead author Dr. Armen Arevian, director of the Innovation Lab at the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
The AI was trained to use an individual’s own words to offer a personalized analysis for each patient. The application focused primarily on the choice of words the patients used in their responses, how their responses changed over time, with a smaller emphasis on audio features like tone of voice, he explained.
The analysis of the data, conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Southern California’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL), found that the application’s analysis was as accurate at monitoring patients’ mental states as their treating physicians, according to the researchers.
“The way people answer questions and the way they change their answers over time is unique to each patient,” Arevian said. “We were looking at a person as a person and not as a diagnosis.”
Researchers said they hope that artificial intelligence that can analyze data collected from apps such as MyCoachConnect will enable more proactive and personalized care for individuals. The application, for example, may help improve treatment by intervening early when someone is experiencing more symptoms, they say.
“Artificial intelligence allowed us to illuminate the various clinically-meaningful dimensions of language use and vocal patterns of the patients over time and personalized at each individual level,” said senior author Dr. Shri Narayanan, Niki and Max Nikias Chair in Engineering and Director of SAIL at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
Some participants were interviewed after the study ended, and said they found the system easy and enjoyable to use, Arevian added.
“They said speaking to a computer-generated voice allowed them to speak more freely,” he said. “They also said it helped them feel less lonely because they knew that someone would be listening to it, and to them that meant that someone cared.”
The study was published in PLOS ONE.
Wood, J. (2020). AI Voice Analysis Can Monitor Patients’ Mental Health as Well as Doctors. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2020/01/17/ai-voice-analysis-can-monitor-patients-mental-health-as-well-as-doctors/153486.html